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Forterra invest in HAVwear technology

HAVwear vibration-monitoring device

Health and safety boost for 400 employees as new wrist-worn vibration-monitoring system is introduced

IN what is believed to be a first for the building products industry, Forterra have invested tens of thousands of pounds in new vibration-monitoring devices to help protect employees from hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), also known as vibration white finger.

The company has spent nearly £50,000 on HAVwear devices, plus supporting equipment, from UK firm Reactec, for use by up to 400 employees, predominantly in the firm’s Bison Precast division and its block-manufacturing facilities at Hams Hall and Newbury, to help protect them from the risk of excessive exposure to hand arm vibration.

It is estimated that up to 2 million UK workers are exposed to high levels of HAVS, a condition for which there is no cure, only prevention. Some 300,000 people in the UK have advanced stages of the condition, which can develop after just six months. According to research carried out in 2012, 50% of all occupational industry diseases are HAVS-related*.

Paul Humphreys, Forterra’s head of health and safety, said: ‘We are one of the first companies in our sector to introduce this system of vibration monitoring for our workforce. As well as helping to monitor safe vibration levels, this new equipment and technology will also save us time and money in how we record and monitor vibration levels in future.’

The HAVwear monitoring device is worn like a watch on the wrist and measures how much vibration a user is exposed to. It alerts the operator at various exposure points about how much vibration they have received. When defined safe limits are reached, which can be adjusted depending on the user, it alerts the user of the need to stop and move to other duties.

All data are stored electronically for future reference, removing a significant paper-based administration burden. The system also allows accurate management monitoring, so trends can be identified and changes made to work practices where possible.

Forterra’s chief executive, Stephen Harrison, said: ‘Health and safety in the workplace is of paramount importance to us, and to this end we are leading the way in providing sophisticated vibration-monitoring equipment for jobs in which our employees have most need of it.’

*Information from the Medical Research Council

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